Property closure at St Andrews Estate Cullompton

Posted on: 24 January 2017

On 12 January 2017 the Council obtained a Closure Order following a fire in a loft at a Council property in Cullompton.

Council investigations, after the fire had been put out by the Fire Service, revealed that the tenant had been cultivating cannabis on a large scale in the loft and considered that the fire was caused by the illegal facilities that had been erected in the loft to cultivate the cannabis.  It was evident that the electrical installation at the property, on St Andrews Estate, Cullompton, had been tampered with and sockets overloaded to power the heating and ventilation equipment used to help grow the cannabis.

There was also evidence of drug dealing and significant amounts of cannabis were found at the property.

Working with the Police and other agencies, it was agreed that under the circumstances the appropriate course of action would be to close the property.  The criminal activities of the tenant had resulted in an unacceptable risk which could have resulted in his own death, that of his family and that of neighbours.  The fire also caused severe damage to the property which had recently had a new roof installed prior to the fire taking place.

The property has been closed for a period of three months, which can be extended if necessary.

Following the successful Court action, Ray Stanley, Cabinet Member for Homes, said  “As a provider of social housing, the Council is committed to taking prompt and proactive action to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and to using the full range of tools and powers available in line with the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The power to close premises was introduced to allow the Police or Council to quickly close premises which are being used, or likely to be used, to commit nuisance or disorder.   An Order will be awarded by a Court if there has been disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour.

“In this case, with the support of partner agencies, we were able to prove that the tenant had been engaging in criminal behaviour. He is now prevented from returning to the property.  If he does so, it would be a criminal offence and his action could result in a sentence of up to 51 weeks for breach of the Closure Order.  We intend to take further action to repossess the property and can use the fact that there is a Closure Order in place to demonstrate to the Court that the tenant has breached the terms of his tenancy agreement.

“This case demonstrates that the Council takes our responsibilities as a landlord seriously and that we will not tolerate any misuse of our properties. In accordance with our policy relating to the management of ASB, we will accelerate enforcement action if we deem any incident to be of a serious or life threatening nature.  I want this case to serve as a warning to anyone else who may be engaged in criminal activity in a Council-owned home that we will not hesitate to evict them.  We understand that most people want to live in communities which are safe and secure.  We will work with the majority to ensure that the areas in which they live are protected”.

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